Blog Archives

Home Front – Missouri POW’s

The main camps supported a number of branch camps, which were used to put POWs where their labor could be best utilized.

As author David Fiedler explained in his book “The Enemy Among Us: POWs in Missouri During World War II,” the state was once home to more than 15,000 German and Italian prisoners of war (POW).

Many of the camps where they were held have faded into distant memory as little evidence remains of their existence; however, one local resident has a relic from a former POW camp that provides an enduring connection to the service of a departed relative.

“Established at Weingarten, a sleepy little town on State Highway 32 between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington, Missouri, (Camp Weingarten) had no pre-war existence,” wrote Fiedler. The author further explained, “The camp was enlarged to the point that some 5,800 POWs could be held there, and approximately 380 buildings of all types would be constructed on an expanded 950-acre site.”

Camp Weingarten quickly grew into a sprawling facility to house Italian POWs brought to the United States and, explained Jefferson City resident Carolyn McDowell, was the site where one of her uncles spent his entire period of service with the U.S. Army in World War II.

Working POWs earned 80 cents a day and could buy beer at the canteens.

“My mother’s brother, Dwight Hafford Taylor, was raised in the community of Alton in southern Missouri,” said McDowell. “His hometown really wasn’t all that far from Camp Weingarten,” she added.

Although her uncle passed away in 1970, records accessed through the National Archives and Records Administration indicate he was drafted into the U.S. Army and entered service at Jefferson Barracks on November 10, 1942.  After completing his initial training, he was designated as infantry and became a clerk with the 201st Infantry Regiment.

Shortly after Taylor received assignment to Camp Weingarten, Italian prisoners of war began to arrive at the camp in May 1943. Despite the challenges of overseeing the internment of former enemy soldiers, the camp experienced few security incidents and conditions remained rather cordial, in part due to the sustenance given the prisoners.

There were four main base camps, each holding between 2,000 and 5,000 POWs.

It was noted that many of the Italians were “semi-emaciated” when arriving in the United States because of a poor diet. The Chicago Tribune reported on October 23, 1943, that the prisoners at Camp Weingarten soon “put on weight” by eating a “daily menu … superior to that of the average civilian.”

Pfc. Taylor and his fellow soldiers, most of whom were assigned to military police companies, maintained a busy schedule of guarding the prisoners held in the camp, but also received opportunities to take leave from their duties and visit their loved ones back home.

“During one of my uncle’s visits back to Alton, he asked his mother for an aluminum pie pan,” said McDowell. “He then took it back to camp with him and that’s when he gave it to one of the Italian POWs.”

Cigarette case cover

When returning to camp, one of the POWs with whom Taylor had established a friendship was given the pie pan and used it to demonstrate his abilities as an artist and a craftsman by fashioning it into a cigarette case. The case not only had a specially crafted latching mechanism, but was also etched with an emblem of an eagle on the cover with barracks buildings and a guard tower from the camp inscribed upon the inside.

“My uncle then gave the cigarette case as a gift to my father, who was living in Jefferson City at the time and working as superintendent of the tobacco factory inside the Missouri State Penitentiary,” stated McDowell. “It is a beautifully crafted cigarette case, but the irony of it all is that my father never smoked,” she jokingly added.

Inside of the case.

As McDowell went on to explain, her uncle remained at Camp Weingarten until his discharge from the U.S. Army in December 1944. The following October, the former POW camp was closed and many of the buildings were dismantled, shipped and reassembled as housing for student veterans at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

In the years after the war, McDowell said, her mother kept the cigarette case tucked away in a chest of drawers but since both of her parents have passed, she now believes the historical item should be on display in a museum.

Italian POWs

Little remains of the once sprawling POW camp located approximately 90 miles south of St. Louis, with the exception of a stone fireplace that was part of the Officer’s Club.  McDowell notes the cigarette case is not only a beautiful piece that serves as a link to the past, but represents a story to be shared of the state’s rich military legacy.

“I will someday donate the cigarette case to a museum for preservation and display, and I believe my brother, Harold McDowell, would agree. However, I want to ensure it is recognized for the treasure that it is and it is not simply thrown away,” said McDowell. “That’s why I want to tell the story of its creation … its history, so that its association to Camp Weingarten is never forgotten.”

Click on images to enlarge.

###########################################################################################

Wishing all in New Zealand a memorable Maori New Year!

 

 

############################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

###########################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bealle – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot

Percival Blows (100) – Summerset Karaka, NZ; RNZ Army #20590, WWII, 21st Battalion

David Chappell – Pueblo, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

Murray Fromson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Stars and Stripes journalist

Robert Greer – Stanford, KY; US Army, 11th A/B & 82nd A/B Divisions

Melvin Korman – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

L.G. ‘Butch’ Lemons – Phoenix, AZ; USMC, WWII, SSgt.

Donald McIntyre – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 388853, WWII, Maj. (Ret.), 7th Rajput Reg, So. Lancaster Reg.,Royal West African Frontier Force Intelligence Corps

John Strouf – Altoona, IA; US Army, WWII

Byron Wrenn – St. Helens, OR; US Navy, WWII & Korea

############################################################################################

Advertisements

IJN Yamato

IJN Yamato

By early 1945, Japan’s strategic situation was grim. Japanese conquests in the Pacific had been steadily rolled back since the Allied landings on Guadalcanal in August 1942. The Philippines, Solomons, Gilberts and Carolines had all been lost and the enemy was now literally at the gates. Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu island chain was the last bastion before the Home Islands itself. The island was just 160 miles from the mainland city of Kagoshima, coincidentally the birthplace of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

 From: Kyle Mizokami

In early 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy made a difficult decision: it would sacrifice the largest, most powerful battleships ever built to protect Okinawa, the gateway to Japan’s Home Islands. The decision sealed the fate of the battleship Yamato and its crew, but ironically did nothing to actually protect the island from Allied invasion.

Yamato under construction

The battleship Yamato was among the largest and most powerful battleships of all time. Yamato has reached nearly mythical status, a perfect example of Japan’s fascination with doomed, futile heroics. Built in 1937 at the Kure Naval Arsenal near Hiroshima, it was constructed in secrecy to avoid alarming the United States. Japan had recently withdrawn from the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited battleship tonnages, and was free to build them as large as it wanted.

Unfortunately for Yamato and its crew, it was obsolete by the time it was launched in 1941. The ability of fast aircraft carriers to engage enemy ships at the range of their embarked dive and torpedo bombers meant a carrier could attack a battleship at ranges of two hundred miles or more, long before it entered the range of a battleship’s guns. Battleships were “out-sticked,” to use a modern term.

At 0800 hours on April 7, scout planes from Admiral Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Force, or Task Force 58, located IJN Yamato, still only halfway to Okinawa. Mitscher launched a massive strike force of 280 fighters, bombers and torpedo planes, and the fight was on.

IJN Yamato

For two hours, the Surface Special Attack Force was subjected to a merciless aerial bombardment. The air wings of 11 fleet carriers joined in the attack—so many planes were in the air above Yamato that the fear of midair collision was real. The naval aviators were in such a hurry to score the first hit on the allegedly unsinkable ship plans for a coordinated attack collapsed into a free-for-all. Yamato took two hits during this attack, two bombs and one torpedo, and air attacks claimed two escorting destroyers.

A second aerial armada consisting of one hundred aircraft pressed the attack. As the Yamato started to go down, U.S. naval aviators changed tactics. Noticing the ship was listing badly, one squadron changed its torpedo running depth from ten feet—where it would collide with the main armor belt—to twenty feet, where it would detonate against the exposed lower hull. Aboard Yamato, the listing eventually grew to more than twenty degrees, and the captain made the difficult decision to flood the starboard outer engine room, drowning three hundred men at their stations, in an attempt to trim out the ship.

Yamato in battle, artist unknown

Yamato had taken ten torpedoes and seven bomb hits, and was hurting badly. Despite counterflooding, the ship continued to list, and once it reached thirty five degrees the order was given to abandon ship. The captain and many of the bridge crew tied themselves to their stations and went down with their ship, while the rest attempted to escape.

At 14:23, it happened. Yamato’s forward internal magazines detonated in a spectacular fireball. It was like a tactical nuclear weapon going off. Later, a navigation officer on one of Japan’s surviving destroyers calculated that the “pillar of fire reached a height of 2,000 meters, that the mushroom-shaped cloud rose to a height of 6,000 meters.” The flash from the explosion that was Yamato’s death knell was seen as far away as Kagoshima on the Japanese mainland. The explosion also reportedly destroyed several American airplanes observing the sinking.

Yamato at the end, artist unknown

When it was all over, the Surface Special Attack Force had been almost completely destroyed. Yamato, the cruiser Yahagi and three destroyers were sunk. Several other escorts had been seriously damaged. Gone with the great battleship were 2,498 of its 2,700-person crew.

Click on images to enlarge.

###########################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

###########################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Beasley – Athens, OH; US Navy, corpsman

Ainslie Boyd – Marlborough, NZ; RNZ Navy # 7544, WWII & Vietnam, K Force

Francis Drake Jr. – Springfield, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

David Douglas Duncan (102) – Kansas City, MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, combat photographer / Civilian, Korea & Vietnam Wars, Life Mag. photographer

Donald Freeman – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Howie Judd – Rensselaer, NY; CIA (Ret.)

Harvel Moore –  Chatham, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

James Robinson – Leavenworth, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Mustin

Dee (Berglin) Robinson – Fairmount, ND; VA hospital nurse, WWII

Robert Southall – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII

###########################################################################################

HAVING TROUBLE DEALING WITH MONDAY?

HAVE A GREAT DAY, FOLKS!!

###########################################################################################

USS Laffey & the American Flag

Bill Kelly keeps a photograph in his room at the Claremont Center nursing home where he lives. The picture is of him in a football uniform on Thanksgiving Day, 1942 at Manasquan High School where he was an outstanding football. He says that the very day after the picture was taken, he went to New York and enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17.

A few years later, Kelly was photographed holding the tattered remnants of a flag. The flag is the US flag that flew over the USS Laffey during the Battle of Okinawa. It is tattered because of the damage received from the kamikaze attacks, some of the worst in history, that took place on April 16, 1945.

Kelly says that the Japanese “knocked the hell out of it,” but the ship stayed afloat.

Now 94-years-old, Kelly sits in a wheelchair, but his mind is still sharp. While some details of that fateful day have faded from his memory, his bravery has been chronicled by historians. Last month, he received a flag that had flown over the US Capitol from US Representative Chris Smith.

Kelly with Rep. Smith.

“Bill Kelly’s brave, selfless and outstanding service to this nation aboard the U.S.S. Laffey stands as a shining example of the best our country has to offer,” Smith stated

Kelly worked as a signalman, with expertise in Morse code, on the starboard side of the ship.

Ship historian Sonny Walker said that a Japanese plane flew into the mast and knocked down the American flag. Kelly went out and retrieved the flag from the main deck and headed back to the signal room with it.

On the way back, he found a sailor with his leg missing. It turned out to be Kelly’s good friend, Fred Burgess. He was leaning against a gun mount on his good leg with blood pouring out his missing leg. He cried for Kelly to help him, so Kelly and some other men rushed Burgess to the sick bay.

Once there, Burgess asked Kelly for the flag and Kelly gave it to him. He died, still clutching the flag, before a doctor had a chance to see him.

The Laffey was attacked by 22 Japanese planes that day. She was struck by six planes and four 400-pound bombs. Kelly narrowly missed being crushed by a falling 2-ton antenna. Another blast tossed him fifteen feet in the air.

A shipmate hung a new flag on the deck – “so the Japanese knew who they were fighting,” Kelly remembered, 32 men were killed on the Laffey that day and 71 were wounded. Kelly is amazed that anyone was able to walk away from that attack.

After the war, Kelly worked as a milkman and started a cleaning service while raising five children. He never spoke of the war. His daughter, Margie Moore, only learned of his bravery five or six years ago.

Today, there are just four surviving crewmen from the Laffey. The ship, known as “the ship that would not die,” is a floating museum off the coast of South Carolina.

Kelly was just 20 years old when the attack occurred but he remembers it like yesterday. His room holds mementos of that day: the tattered second flag raised by the shipmate, a photo of the Laffey badly damaged after the attack, his medals which include the Purple Heart.

Laffey after the attacks.

And now the folded congressional flag. When asked about what this flag meant to him, he was humble. “I take this for my shipmates, not me,” he said.

The USS Laffey was present at the D-Day invasions of Normandy where she fired on shore defense locations with her two five-inch gun turrets. She was then moved to the Pacific to help with the attacks on the Japanese where she provided support for the US troops in the Battle of Okinawa, which is when the kamikaze attacks took place.

Patriot’s Point, Laffey and Yorktown

After the war, the ship was repaired and went on to serve in the Korean War and the Cold War before being turned into a museum. It rests at Patriot’s Point, South Carolina next to the aircraft carrier Yorktown and the submarine Clamagore.

Click on images to enlarge.

###########################################################################################

Military Humor – 

“ALL RIGHT, SAILOR! LET’S GET THAT HAT SQUARED AWAY!!”

 

 

 

 

 

############################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford Black Sr. – Commerce, GA; US Army, WWII, Korea, Bronze Star

Kern Lum Chew – Courtland, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

William Donnellan – Massapequa, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Tony Duva – Lake Worth, FL; US Army, WWII

William Harth Jr. – Columbia, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., 329th Bomber Squadron/93rd Bombardment Group, KIA

Fred “Dipper 19” Kovaleski – NYC, NY; Cold War, CIA

Randall Mosher – Bolivar, MO; US Army, Vietnam

Jimmy Simoneaux – LA; US Navy, WWII, USS Spearfish & Snook

Ray Smith – RI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Arthur Wells – Paw Paw, IL; US Army, Vietnam, Col. (Ret.), 1st Armored Div., 11th Airborne Div., 24th Div.,& 1st Div. District Adviser, West Point grad, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

###########################################################################################

Fort Drum, Luzon, P.I.

Fort Drum, Luzon, P.I.

As the Okinawa battles continued to rage, a completely new type of operation was progressing in Manila Bay, Luzon.

The ruined concrete fort in Manila Bay is Fort Drum. Formerly called Island, it is quite literally the world’s only unsinkable battleship. Certainly deserving of a rightful place in the list of tourist spots, it has a story that is worth re-telling.

When the United States annexed the Philippines in 1898, its defense automatically became their responsibility. In order to defend their latest colony against any future invaders, the US fortified four islands at the mouth of Manila Bay during the period of 1909-1913. These four islands – Corregidor, Caballo, Carabao and El Frail went on to become Fort Mills, Fort Hughes, Fort Frank, and Fort Drum, respectively.

To construct Fort Drum, the US Army Corps of Engineers had to cut the small, rocky island of El Fraile. Taking the rock as the foundation, they erected a concrete fortification that was in the shape of a battleship. Said ”battleship” was 240 feet long, 160 feet wide, and 40 feet above the water line, with walls 30-40 feet thick and a deck 20 feet deep. It had four levels inside that were connected by an axial tunnel that ran across the island and 11 guns.

When the Usaffe got destroyed in Bataan on 25 January 1942, the Japanese began to prepare to shell the island forts. Under the leadership of Maj. Toshinori Kondo, the Japanese began shelling the islands 5 Feb. Their objective to destroy Fort Drum, however, did not materialize, as it remained intact despite being hit over a hundred times.

By 3rd February 1945, a flying column had reached Manila led to a month-long battle to liberate Manila from the Japanese. Despite the ongoing battle, however, the Americans began to clear the fortified islands of Japanese to open Manila Bay for shipping, with Fort Drum being the last island to get liberated.

Retaking Ft. Drum

The Americans devised special tactics to liberate Fort Drum.  On 13 April, a Landing Ship Medium (LSM) and a Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) was sent to pull up alongside Fort Drum.  The LSM had a specially built ramp on top of it, using which it discharged two platoons of soldiers: while the first platoon consisted of crack snipers to cover every opening where Japanese soldiers may appear, the second comprised engineers assigned to plant demolition charges.

The sniper opened up again and a bullet cut through the fatigue jacket of SGT Mack Thomson of Springfield, MO, the colonel’s driver and radio operator. Thomson had been standing amidships unaware that he was a target.  The bullet made seven holes, passing through the outside of the jacket, the baggy pocket and a sleeve.  Thomson wasn’t even scratched.  Another sniper bullet grazed the back of CPL Vincent Glennon’s right hand.  Glennon, an aid man from Gary, IN, had dropped behind a ventilator for protection at the first sniper shot.  The bullet went through the light, thin metal of the ventilator and creased his hand, drawing no more blood than a pin scratch.

Fort Drum

A sailor, Steve Bukovics, a PA native, had worse luck. A Jap shot split the fittings that connected the three air hoses to the gyroscopic sight of his 20mm gun and several pieces of the scattered wreckage were embedded in his throat.  Army and Navy medics teamed up to give him an immediate transfusion and to dress his wounds.  He, Glennon and Thomson were the only casualties.

Once the charges were in position, the LCM poured 3,000 gallons of oil into one of the vents and dumped explosives into the other. Both the LSM and LCM were moved to a safe distance after the fuses were lit.  With the charges detonated, a series of explosions followed that finally blew Fort Drum’s manhole that was 1 ton in weight and 1 meter in diameter 50 meters up into the air. Finally gaining access to the fort on 18th April, the Americans went on to discover 65 dead.

Ft. Drum, bearing her battle scars.

As of today, Fort Drum continues to stand as an old ruin right at the mouth of Manila Bay.  Although no longer in action, it still holds its reputation as being unsinkable.

Unfortunately, though, in spite of all the history, Fort Drum, along with the nearby Fort Frank are still neglected as tourist spots.

 Article condensed from a stories in War History online and Yank Magazine;
Click on images to enlarge.
###############################################################################################

Military Humor –

Bill Mauldin cartoon

###############################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

Raymond Barker – Delavan, WI; USMC, WWII, Cpl., KIA (Tarawa)

Richard Bohan – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, Vietnam

Jack Childs – Minneapolis, MN; US Army, Korea, Vietnam, Major (Ret.)

Joanne Gillespie Goldsmith – Chester, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Allen Higgins – AZ; US Army, WWII, ATO, intelligence

Leopoldo Muniz – Milagro, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Burgess “Buck” Rand Jr. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Air Force, Vietnam

James Stoner – Cape Girardeau, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO

George Truebe – Decatur, IL; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Wayland Wadley – Cedar Key, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS West Virginia

###########################################################################################

Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The only house he ever owned became, and remains, Albuquerque’s first branch library. A South Valley middle school bears his name, and his face once appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

But, today, many people would be stumped to tell you much, if anything, about Ernie Pyle, the famed newspaper columnist whose writings brought the realities of World War II home to millions of Americans.

Jerry Maschino, along with several of Pyle’s descendants, is out to change that.

“A lot of people, if you ask them, ‘Do you know Ernie Pyle?’ will answer yes,” Maschino said. “But if you ask about specifics, they usually don’t know any, other than he was a war correspondent. … But there’s a lot more to Ernie Pyle than that.”

Maschino and a trio of other board members with the 3-year-old Ernie Pyle Legacy Foundation, based in Gallatin, Tenn., were in town recently drumming up support for a national Ernie Pyle Day. They plan to kick off the effort with an Aug. 3, 2017, celebration at the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial, which sits about 2½ miles east of Pyle’s 900 Girard SE home, now the Ernie Pyle Library.

“Our mission is simple: Ensure the legacy of Ernie Pyle,” Maschino said. “We have a lot of avenues to do that. The short-term objective is to visit places and have events where we can bring a lot people together and present this idea” of having a national Ernie Pyle Day.

“We want to kick it off in Albuquerque because this was his home,” he said.

Pyle, an Indiana native, was the best-known columnist of World War II. Writing in a conversational, down-home style about the soldiers, places and events of that global conflict for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain, Pyle reached millions of readers who came to regard him as friend, confidant and teller of truth.

Pyle, a thin, balding man approaching middle age, was on the front lines in the North Africa campaign, the invasion of Sicily, the D-Day landings at Normandy and the invasion of Okinawa.

His columns — which Pyle believed never adequately conveyed the horror of war to his readers — won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1944.

“Mothers used to wait for their newspapers every day to see whether their sons might be mentioned in Pyle’s columns,” Maschino said.

But Pyle honed his reporting skills and writing style long before shipping out to war.

While attending Indiana University to study journalism, Pyle was editor of the student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student.

He quit college in 1923, a few months before graduating, to work as a cub reporter for the LaPorte Herald, now the LaPorte Herald-Argus, in Indiana.

He left Indiana 3 1/2 months later to write for Scripps Howard’s Washington Daily News, where he became the country’s first aviation columnist, rubbing elbows with pioneers of the fledgling industry. His friend, famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, gave him an engraved watch that he wore most of his life.

After a brief stint as an editor, Pyle persuaded his bosses to let him become a roving reporter. For the next six years he traveled throughout the country, writing columns about the people he met and the places he visited.

Ernie Pyle

During those travels, he developed an affinity for New Mexico. He and his wife, Jerry, decided to settle in Albuquerque in 1940, buying a lot and building the modest home on Girard.

Then came the war, and Pyle embedded with the troops.

When it was clear that the battle against Hitler’s Nazis in Europe was heading toward its inevitable conclusion, Pyle wrestled with the urge to leave war behind. But his bond with the GIs bearing the brunt of the war persuaded him to head to the Pacific Theater.

While in the Pacific, Pyle waged a successful war against military censorship by persuading the Navy to rescind its policy that prevented him from publishing the names and hometowns of the sailors and Navy aviators he wrote about in his columns.

**ADVANCE FOR MONDAY, FEB. 4** This photo provided by Richard Strasser shows the scene on April 20, 1945, two days after his death on Ie Shima, where correspondent Ernie Pyle was buried alongside several soldiers killed in combat on the tiny island off Okinawa _ the kind of men Pyle had written about during four years of WWII battlefield reporting. The photo shows a memorial ceremony led by Maj. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce (back to camera), commander of the Army’s 77th Infantry Division, which captured the island the next day. Ernie Pyle’s wooden coffin, with his picture and a sprig of foliage, is visible at the officer’s feet. His body was moved in 1949 to a military cemetery in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Richard Strasser)

Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner on April 18, 1945, on the island of Iejima, then known as Ie Shima. He was accompanying units with the 77th Infantry Division during the battle for the Japanese island of Okinawa. The nation mourned him like no other casualty of the war.

Jerry Pyle, who fought her own war with alcoholism and mental illness, died seven months after Ernie.

In 1983, Ernie Pyle was awarded the Purple Heart — a rare honor for a civilian — by the 77th Army Reserve Command.

(c)2016 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

From Stars and Stripes magazine.

###################################

 

A short video of remembrance for Ernie Pyle….

############################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Gerry Berndsen – St. Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, C-47 pilot

Anne V. Coates – ENG; civilian surgical nurse for wounded veterans, (noted film editor)

Ralph Diaz – Winter Haven, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Donald Freeman – Birmingham, AL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Carlton Hudson – Larto, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW, B-24 navigator

Bob Jacobsen – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Vietnam, Lt.Comdr., pilot

Charles Marner – Oak Park, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Randolph

Joseph Nixon – Olyphant, PA; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Milton Potee – Rogers, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Harold Schworn – Delanson, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Rushmore

###########################################################################################

Communiques from the Pacific

Okinawa, 1945, taken by: W. Eugene Smith

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 334, APRIL 16, 1945

Supported by carrier aircraft and by naval gunfire, elements of the Twenty Fourth Army Corps landed on le Shima, an island west of Okinawa, on the morning of April 16 (East Longitude Date). Advancing inland rapidly against resistance which was initially light but later stiffened, our troops captured the enemy airfield and secured most of the area west of that point. The greater part of the enemy defense force has been driven back to defensive positions in the pinnacles southeast of the airfield.
Marines of the Third Amphibious Corps continued to attack groups of the enemy on Motobu Peninsula, Okinawa, on April 16. Marine forces continued to advance northward in the rugged terrain of the island north of the peninsula.
There was little change in the lines of the Twenty Fourth Army Corps in the southern sector of Okinawa. Naval guns and carrier planes attacked enemy positions in the south.
At the end of April 13 our forces on Okinawa had killed 9,108 of the enemy and captured 391 prisoners of war. About 85,000 civilians had come under jurisdiction of the U. S. Military Government on the island by the end of April 15. Our Military Government authorities have constructed one large camp and have taken over thirteen villages for use of civilians. Civilian foodstuffs are being salvaged and used. Our medical facilities have proved adequate for treatment of civilians thus far.

Okinawa, April 1945, taken by: W.E. Smith

CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 340, APRIL 22, 1945

The Twenty Fourth Army Corps continued to attack the enemy’s fortified positions in the southern sector of Okinawa on April 22 (East Longitude Date) meeting bitter resistance in all areas of the fighting. Our troops were supported by heavy artillery, naval guns, and carrier and landbased aircraft. No substantial changes had been made in the lines by 1700 on April 22. A total of 11,738 of the enemy have been killed and 27 taken prisoner in the Twenty Fourth Corps zone of action.
Elements of the Marine Third Amphibious Corps occupied Taka Banare Island east of Okinawa on April 22 and landed on Sesoko Island west of Motobu Peninsula on the same date. Our troops on Sesoko were reported to be half way across the island in the early afternoon.

Corpsmen race under fire to the wounded, Okinawa

During the night of April 21-22, a few enemy aircraft approached our forces around the Okinawa area and four were shot down by carrier planes and aircraft of the Tactical Air Force. On the afternoon of April 22 a substantial group of Japanese planes attacked our forces in and around Okinawa causing some damage and sinking one light unit of the fleet. Forty-nine enemy planes were shot down by our combat air patrols and antiaircraft fire.
Carrier aircraft of the U. S. Pacific Fleet attacked airfields and other installations in the Sakishima Group on April 21 and 22.
Army Mustangs of the Seventh Fighter Command attacked Suzuka airfield 32 miles southwest of Nagoya on April 22 inflicting the following damage on the enemy:

9 aircraft shot out of the air

Japanese land-based aircraft destroyed

One probably shot down
17 aircraft destroyed on the ground
20 Aircraft damaged on the ground

A 6000-ton ship exploded in Ise Bay south of Nagoya
Two small oilers sunk
One small tanker sunk
One coastal cargo ship damaged

Carrierbased aircraft of the U. S. Pacific Fleet attacked airfields and ground installations in the Amami Group of the Northern Ryukyus during April 18 to 20 inclusive, damaging or destroying numerous airfield structures. On April 21 and 22 carrier planes operating in the Northern Ryukyus shot down 16 enemy planes and burned 10 more on the ground.
A search plane of Fleet Air Wing One attacked a small cargo ship east of the Ryukyus on April 22 leaving it burning and dead in the water.
Runways and installations on Marcus Island were bombed by Liberators of the Seventh Army Air Force on April 21. Helldiver bombers of the Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing attacked the airstrip on Yap in the Western Carolines on April 21.
During the twenty four hours ending at 1800 on April 20, 60 Japanese were killed and 64 were captured on Iwo Island. A total of 23,049 of the enemy have been killed and 850 captured since February.

Click on images to enlarge.

##########################################################################################

Military ‘Office’ Humor – 

Incognito office duty

 

 

 

##########################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Derek Barnsley – Coromandel, NZ; Royal Navy # FX705461, WWII, Sgt., 580 Squadron/RAF

Wayne Chapman – Burlington, VT; US Army, Korea

Norbert Gilly Jr. – New Orleans, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Howard Hermance – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Ted Leslie – Jensen Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

Ernest L. Medina – Montrose, CO; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, Silver Star

Dennis Odom – St. Louis, IL; US Army, Vietnam

Jack Rotolo – Rome, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, 118th Combat Engineer Battalion

Crosbie Saint – Philomont, PA; US Army, Vietnam, General (Ret. 30 y.), West Point grad, Cmdr, of the U.S. Army Europe, Silver Star & DFC

Fred Williams – Springfield, OR; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Eye Witness Account to Okinawa

This story was contributed by fellow blogger, Mike Tuggle, in tribute to his father, who sailed his final voyage this past Saturday.

My account of the Invasion of Okinawa

By:  Clayton C. Tuggle

I was one of the approximately twelve hundred men aboard the USS Birmingham CL-62. We set out for Okinawa in March, 1945.

Clayton Tuggle

Arriving in Okinawa, we were stationed about five miles from shore. We bombarded the island with 6-inch guns at night hitting several ammunition dumps and shore guns of several sizes. This went on until the invasion began on April 1, 1945. This battle was something entirely different from any the Navy had experienced. Torpedoes were exploding all around our ship, the skies were full of explosions from guns on both sides.

On the 5th of May, 1945, I was cleaning officers’ quarters when the captain [John Wilkes] came on the PA system. He said he’d just got word that 300 Kamikaze planes were headed for our fleet. He said, “The odds are against us but, men, for God’s sake, go down fighting.”

USS Birmingham

My battle station was fire control on the 40 mm guns. I received orders from the gunnery officer and relayed the message to the gun crews as per instructions to aim the guns at the oncoming planes. This was done by the radar system.

In my battle station I could see almost everything around our ship. Kamikaze planes were coming in from the port side, some would crash just before hitting our ship, some would be on fire and head for a ship of any size to hit. I saw one ship get hit by two planes at the same time. I saw several planes get shot out of the sky and crash into the sea. Some would fall near our ship.

Our Marines fired the 20 mm guns constantly as planes came as close as 50 ft from us. The sky was full of explosions. After the all-clear signal came, we headed toward the island for more bombardment. About a half-hour later everyone was back on regular duty.

USS Birmingham ripped apart by kamikaze plane, 1945

One Kamikaze having hidden in the clouds undetected by the radar came down. This tragedy killed forty-seven and wounded eighty-one on our ship. One sailor standing next to me was blown away. I never saw him again.

I was down below in officers’ quarters when the chaplain came to me and commanded me to take him topside. He was burned bad and suffering smoke inhalation. I was suffering from smoke inhalation, and something told me to get in the shower and turn it on for air. I stayed close to the shower for about a minute, then I was able to get the chaplain topside. He died three days later on a hospital ship.

I saw mangled bodies all over the deck, arms and legs were everywhere, bodies without limbs. I had known them personally. I walked by my living quarters and heard men screaming as the rescue squad was closing the hatch on them to keep the compartment from flooding. I then walked to the back of the ship and sat down for a while.

I was elected pall bearer as most of them were from my own division and I knew most of them. We were friends. They were all buried at sea.

Burial at sea.

We went back to normal duties. All my belongings had been destroyed, and I was assigned to another division temporarily and started out again as a sailor going about normal duty. We headed to Pearl Harbor for repairs. We were there for three months.

After repairs were finished we sailed to Tokyo Bay. We were preparing to attack, but the Enola Gay dropped some bombs and peace was declared.

Clayton Tuggle
3-14-1995

April 10, 1925 – May 12, 2018

Click on images to enlarge.

##########################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Jeremiah Adams – Oswego, IL; US Navy, USS Nimitz

Robert Buchert – Cincinnatti, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 152nd AAA/11th Airborne Division

Bill Cooley – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, Lt.

Thomas Davis – Albuquerque, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Major, Silver Star

Thomas Eager – Lacona, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Princeton

Felix Cruz-Gomez – Brandon, FL; US Army, WWII, KOrea, Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

Ballard Marshall – Richmond, KY; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt.

Art Paul – Chicago, IL; US Army

Jhoon Rhee – Asan, So.KOR; civilian employee US Air Force, Korea War, interpreter

Emil Smith – Paeroa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 10828, WWII

##########################################################################################

1 April 1945 – Okinawa

Okinawa invasion map

Codenamed Operation Iceberg, this was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by U. S. Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the US Army with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own tactical air force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

On this day in 1945, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 U.S. combat troops of the 10th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner Jr., land on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan.

Marine & Navy aircraft destroyed all enemy aircraft on land. Shown here is Yontan Airfield

Determined to seize Okinawa as a base of operations for the army ground and air forces for a later assault on mainland Japan, more than 1,300 ships converged on the island, finally putting ashore 50,000 combat troops on April 1. The Americans quickly seized two airfields and advanced inland to cut the island’s waist. They battled nearly 120,000 Japanese army, militia, and labor troops under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima.

See some of the action in this 4 minute video………

The naval campaign against Okinawa began in late March 1945, as the carriers of the BPF began striking Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands. To the east of Okinawa, Mitscher’s carrier provided cover from kamikazes approaching from Kyushu. Japanese air attacks proved light the first several days of the campaign but increased on April 6 when a force of 400 aircraft attempted to attack the fleet.

The high point of the naval campaign came on April 7 when the Japanese launched Operation Ten-Go.  It was during this operation that they attempted to drive their battleship Yamato through the Allied fleet with the goal of beaching it on Okinawa for use a shore battery.

Initial U.S. landings began on March 26 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama Islands to the west of Okinawa. On March 31, Marines occupied Keise Shima. Only eight miles from Okinawa, the Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the Minatoga beaches on the southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Geiger and Hodge’s men quickly swept across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields (Map).

US Army 77th Infantry soldiers trudge thru the mud & flooding on Okinawa

Having encountered light resistance, Buckner ordered the 6th Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula.

Click on images to enlarge.

#######################################################################################

Current News –

The remains of five Australians who were murdered by the Japanese in World War II appear to have been discovered on the island of Nauru.  The five men were working as civilians on the island in 1943, not soldiers, so there is, unfortunately, no money available to repatriate them.

Frederick Royden Chalmers volunteered to remain on the island along with four other men in order to help the islanders deal with the Japanese invasion they knew was coming.  Chalmers was 62 years old when he was killed. The other four men were Bernard Quin, 48, Wilfred Shugg, 39, William Doyle, 47, and Frederick Harmer, 44. They were captured by the invading forces and eventually dragged onto the beach where they were killed on March 25, 1943.

The family of Chalmers wants his body returned to Australia. The Unrecovered War Casualties Unit of the Australian Army Defense Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs both claim to be unauthorized to bring the remains of the men back home.

#######################################################################################

Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

#######################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

Stevie Barnett – Matthews, MO; US Navy, Vietnam,Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Ira ‘Pete’ Chesley – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 9th Armored Division

Thomas Eager – Watertown, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Princeton

Bob Funderburke – Rock Hill, SC; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Jessie Gale – Tetonia, ID; US Navy, WWII, ATO

Michael Littrell Sr. – Louisville, KY; USMC, Vietnam

William Patterson – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Col. (Ret.), 42 Ordnance Div.

Lloyd Robertson – Cralk, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

John Siler – Banner, OK; Merchant Marine, WWII

Francis Weniger – Plankinton, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO

##################################################################################

 

 

Navy Diary for end of March 1945

USS Montpelier

From “Pacific War Diary” by James J. Fahey of the USS Montpelier

Friday, March 16, 1945 – We left Subic Bay, traveled to Mindoro and anchored.  We may be ordered to troops on the southeast side of Mindanao.  We had plane recognition every day as usual.  We have movies of our planes and the enemy’s so we can tell the difference.  Tonight many B-24 bombers returned after a raid on China.  One of the planes came in on 3 motors.

The Press News reported that the Japanese lost approximately 4000 airplanes in the Philippine campaign.  British Lancaster bomber loads were increased to carry 11-ton bombs for the first time yesterday.  They are capable of destroying 5 city blocks each, being the largest bombs in the world.

James J. Fahey

Tuesday, March 20, 1945 – B-29s dropped leaflets on Japan telling the inhabitants that the bombing would cease when they stopped fighting.  They also warned people to stay away from military areas,  Bomber from Iwo Jima will bomb Japan soon.

I left the ship today for recreation on the beach at Mindoro.  We received a ride from an Army truck and went to the town about 10 miles away.  HQ for the 5th Air Force was also accommodated on the island.  I saw a couple of Red Cross girls there.  Some of the men bought corn whiskey from the soldiers.  They paid $17 for one pint.  That must be some kind of record.

Sunday, March 25, 1945 – Today is palm Sunday, our third in the Pacific.  The Australian cruiser Hobart was here, but left yesterday with the Phoenix and Boise.  The Cleveland, Denver and Montpelier are the only cruisers here now.  The men would like to join Bull Halsey’s Third Fleet, but they are only letting the newer ships go with the 3rd.

The other night we were ordered to battle stations.  Around midnight, Jap bombers struck at Manila.  They did not attack the ships in the bay.

USS Franklin, in the Task Force, 60 miles off the coast of Japan. This is what Seaman Fahey was missing. One Japanese “Betty” bomber dropped 2 bombs. All planes on deck were lost as were 832 crew members.

The Press News reported that 274 tons of bombs have been falling on Germany every hour for the past 3 weeks.  This is more than England received during the entire war.  The Japs lost 10,000 aircraft in the past 7 months.

Sunday, April 1, 1945 – A British task force is now operating with the American Fleet off Japan.  Today at noon approximately 100 LCIs arrived.  Some action must be in store.

Click on images to enlarge.

###################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

###################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Ted Brewer – Omaha, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, CM Sgt. (Ret. 26 y.)

Willie Cardin – Hartford, CT; US Army, 11th & 82nd Airborne Divisions

Robert Gilmour – Manitoba, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Wendell Hawley – Burlington, VT; US Army, WWII

Alan Konzelman – Patterson, NJ; US Navy, engineer, 6th Fleet

William Lynch – Washington DC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 3rd Class

Mark Pitalo – Biloxi, MS; USMC, WWII & Korea

Harry Sergerdell – Broad Channel, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII

Thomas Turner – Gaffney, SC; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Willis Williams – Memphis, TN; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Commander (Ret.)

####################################################################################

 

CBI Theater – March 1945 – part two

FILL ‘ER UP !!
C-109 at Kurmitola, India

USE RUSSIAN VODKA FOR LIGHTER FLUID

HQ., CHINA WING, ATC – An officer, just arrived at one of the India-China Division’s China bases, was relaxing in bed at the close of his first day of duty.
It was then that he received lesson number one on how to get along in China. As he watched, his roommate removed the cork from a large bottle of colorless liquid and carefully filled his lighter. A few minutes later, after he had finished shaving, he rubbed his face briskly with lotion – out of the same bottle. Then he took down a pair of trousers and removed two spots – still using the same magic fluid.
Once dressed, the officer opened a can of fruit juice and poured it into two glasses, adding generous slugs out of the bottle. The newcomer looked at his drink doubtfully, but his roommate reassured him.
“It’s okay,” he said, “pretty fair vodka made by a Russian in town. Up here in China, everything does double duty.”

__________

MGen. Howard Davidson

HQ., 10TH AIR FORCE, BURMA – A Tactical Air Communications Squadron of Maj. Gen. Howard C. Davidson’s 10th Air Force has a simple way of letting Squadron Headquarters know when they have entered a town in Burma. They simply ship back a dog.
This Air Corps outfit, the only one of its kind in the Theater, accompanies virtually all of the Allied Ground Forces to direct 10th Air Force planes in bombing and strafing in joint co-operation with ground attacks. Since these teams accompany the forward infantry elements, they are usually among the first to enter captured towns and villages.
Their custom is to grab the first available dog after entering a town where heavy fighting has been encountered, name the dog after the place, then send it back as a mascot. Since they have been in about every major operation in North Burma, the number of dog-mascots has grown to be a major feeding problem.
The prima donna of all the dogs is one called “Commedation,” so named after the boys were given a unit commendation by the Commanding General of the 19th Air Force.

__________

INGENUITY

3 new crew chiefs of the XX Bomber Command display Bronze Star Medals awarded for efficiency in maintaining B-29’s operating in the CBI. M/Sgt. Kenneth Day, Waban, Mass.; M/Sgt. William Kolynych, Clifton Heights, Pa.; and M/Sgt. Bruce Mahler, Seattle, Wash.

BENGAL AIR DEPOT – “You might think my boys were all jewelers or precision instrument men before the war. Actaully, most of them are Army trained.”
The source of this quotation was T/Sgt. Jim Glynn, section chief of the Ordnance instrument repair shop at Bengal Air Depot. Glynn, who formerly worked for an electrical power house equipment firm, is convinced that Army training is capable of producing craftsmen as skilled as any in civilian life.
When he received greetings from the President, T/4 Murray Waldron was in Boston. Besides working for a BS degree in physics, Waldron was getting some time experience with the Polaroid Optical Co. Special jobs that have come his way include making color filters for movie cameras used by combat photographers and the replacing of the original plastic washers on binoculars by ribber ones. The latter job provides an air-tight seal protecting delicate parts from dust and moisture.
Lake Placid, N.Y. is the hometown of T/3 Frederick Smith, a college student before he became a G.I. Smith lends his talents to telescopes. A contribution he has collaborated on was the finding of a suitable method of cleaning fungus from prisms. Nitric acid provided the ultimate solution. A wooden clamp to hold small parts in the hand while working, modeled after the diamond setter’s ring holder, has proved to be another time saver.
Pfc. J. W. Miller hasn’t wandered far from his former job of lens grinder since slipping into the khaki. India, as far as the job goes, isn’t much different from Austin, Tex. Pressure for production has necessitated using medical soap jars for acid containers, medical atomizers for dispensing alcohol in cleaning lenses, and the manufacture of a cleaning machine that does 5 watches at once.

Click on images to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

####################################################################################

Military Humor – CBI “Strickly G.I.”  by Ehert

 

 

 

####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Eugene Chernoy- Santa Monica, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO (Borneo), 6th Army AF Combat Camera Unit (13th AF), TSgt., Purple Heart

Richard Eckert – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, bugler

Angel Flight

Frank Fariello – Bronx, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 41st Fighter Sq., Lt.Col. (Ret. 20 y.), pilot (187 combat missions)

Robert Hair – Wainuiomata, NZ; RNZ Navy # 692000, Warrant Officer (Ret. 21 y.)

Henry LY – Brn: Canton, CHI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, corpsman

Jack McCaffrey – Lavender Bay, AUS; # NX320255, Borneo

John Parry – Atlanta, GA; US Army, WWII, CBI, TSgt.

Albert Schlitz – Paris, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Louis Tanner – Houston, TX; USMC, Pfc., 3/5/1st Marine Division, KIA (Palau)

Marlyn Wilcox – Gibbon, NE; US Navy, WWII, CBI

###################################################################################

%d bloggers like this: